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I come alive in my journals. They are a home for me. Whether writing or making art, I find myself in my journals. It wasn’t always like that. I spent a lot of my life feeling lost, like an autumn leaf blowing in the wind, down the street, fragile and brittle.
Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of an Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” was an eye opener for me. After reading her book, I felt like I finally had a way to define myself and my place in the world. I believe that I’ve spend most of my life trying to fit in to an extrovert world and its lifestyle, a world that was unnatural for me. I think I would have thrived best as a child if someone plopped me down in a rural environment with blank paper and pens and crayons and let me wander with my imagination.
I've come to define myself as an introvert, an empath and a highly sensitive person (HSP). It’s easy to imagine that my parents, had no way to define these traits and probably thought that all children and humans were alike and had the same needs. My parents had no idea how to talk with me or nurture my somewhat unique needs. And my challenges continued into adulthood. It took me a long time to figure out how to best live in the world, and recognize and develop the skills that would best support me and my personality. I found my way by cultivating self awareness, self knowledge and self love
You might consider if you have any of these traits:
• As an introvert: you find yourself drained when hanging around too long with groups of people. You need time alone to recharge your batteries.
• As an empath: you find yourself feeling the emotions of others. Your boundaries may feel blurred. You don’t know where you end and others begin.
• As an HSP: you might find yourself feeling easily overstimulated in many situations.
If you identify with any of these traits, you might look to the following tools to help ease your way:
• Keep a written journal. Write often, if not daily. Writing is a way for me to know my mind and sort through the challenges I encounter. It keeps me off the "hamster wheel of my mind", where my thoughts keep going round and round trying to solve a problem or some other thing that agitates me.
• Do something creative like art making. Certain art activities like coloring and Zentangles are very calming, meditative, relaxing. Working with large paper and markers or paint can help explore emotions that are hidden (deeply) within.
• Exercise. Walk in nature. Exercise helps discharge pent up energy in the body, energy that you may have picked up and are unable to express. Walking in nature is calming, grounding.
• Hire a coach or a therapist. Over the years, I have sought help and I think of the people who help(ed) me as designated listeners. I need someone to hear me and help me hear myself. They help me sort out my thoughts and feelings and figure out how to navigate in the world.
The quiet, sensitive people in the world have a lot to contribute to the world. They have many gifts to offer; their depth, their insights, their thoughtful thinking processes. Make space for yourself to flourish and grow. Become aware of your inner beauty and find ways to share it in the world that work for you.
Sending you Love ❤️
Since it is the month of February, the month we celebrate Valentines Day, I thought I would focus my writing on the theme of Love. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. I find Love, as a theme, to be complicated. There are so many kinds of Love; love for partners, parental love, sisterly love, brotherly love, love for friends, love for children, Divine Love, love for self. And let us not forget Romantic Love, for Valentines Day is a celebration of Romantic Love.
Romantic Love with all its excitement is a gateway to real love. Romantic Love is a lovely thread to weave through the journey of real love. And, Romantic Love is only a part of the picture of love. So much of our culture idealizes and focuses on Romantic Love. Why not? It’s a good story line, it usually has a lot of drama. But there is another kind of love which is the day to day love which has other kinds of dramas and requires a completely different set of skills to navigate.
As I set out to understand love, I found it hard to find satisfying definitions.
From the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary love is defined as:
1a(1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties: maternal love for a child
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers: After all these years, they are still very much in love.
(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests: love for his old schoolmates
b : an assurance of affection: give her my love
2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion: love of the sea
3a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration: baseball was his first love
b(1) : a beloved person : darling —often used as a term of endearment
(2) British —used as an informal term of address
4a : unselfish loyal and benevolent (see benevolent sense 1a) concern for the good of another: such as
(1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind
(2) : brotherly concern for others
b : a person's adoration of God
5 : a god (such as Cupid or Eros) or personification of love
6 : an amorous episode : love affair
7 : the sexual embrace : copulation
8 : a score of zero (as in tennis)
9 capitalized, Christian Science : god
Does that clear things up for you? Not for me, hardly at all.
Same source, 2nd entry:
1 : to hold dear : cherish
2a : to feel a lover's passion, devotion, or tenderness for
b(1) : caress
(2) : to fondle amorously
(3) : to copulate with
3 : to like or desire actively : take pleasure in: loved to play the violin
4 : to thrive in: the rose loves sunlight
I think that gets a little closer, perhaps because there is some emotion in there.
Here are the synonyms:
Noun: affection, attachment, appreciate, cherish, prize, treasure, value
Verb: attachment, devotedness, devotion, fondness, passion
Words like: affection, attraction, assurance, concern touch upon how I define or describe love but they don’t completely embrace it. Devotedness and devotion come much closer to what I would define as love.
To me, love feels big, transcendent. Love feels like a sacred act or expression. For me, love is bigger than human. And although I use the word often and try to live it in my everyday life, I often stumble over myself in my expression of it. Love feels like something I practice versus something I achieve or accomplish.
When I try to define love, I come up with these words: commitment, kindness, understanding, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, joy, compassion, honesty, enduring. Perhaps these are more like qualities but I find them to best explain what happens in love. When I think of the love I share with my partner, it is a daily practice that engages these qualities. And to partake of this kind of engagement takes awareness. Like other spiritual practices, it is about living in the moment and being present, to my partner’s thoughts, feelings and needs and simultaneously to my own thoughts, feelings and needs.
We are all fragile humans, misfits acting out the painful karma drama of our inner and outer worlds. And through the actions we create or act upon in the name of love, I find the relationships that endure with partners, parents, children and friends are the relationships that forgive, are kind, are willing to move forward no matter what blemishes or thorns that show up. I have learned about love from the people who have forgiven me.
In Kahlil Gibran’s essay about Love, he is referring to Transcendent Love. In writing about Marriage, Kahlil Gibran gets much closer to what I will call for this essay, human love. Within his essay on Marriage he says:
“… make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
I love those words. I think they describes how to keep love alive, well and healthy. We can’t box it, we can’t control it, we can’t compartmentalize it. To make it small or narrow in any way is to deaden it. Like life, love is flow. Love is grace. To experience it, we open to it and let it touch us from within and without. We participate in it by being committed, kind, understanding, patient, forgiving, compassionate, honest, and enduring.
I do hope you will give yourself the opportunity to grow love in your life. It isn’t always easy but it is always kind. And when we open our heart to love, we grow, like a flower in the summer sun, beautiful and warm and full of color and the vibrancy of life.
Happy Valentines Day!
Soon it will be Valentine's Day. I hope you will do something super sweet for yourself. It's
okay to buy yourself flowers or candy or gift yourself with a massage. Make it nice for you.
You deserve it, even if you have a sweetie in your life.
Life is short.
Learn to Be in Love.
Learn to live in Love.
Learn about love.
Learn to give love.
Learn to receive love.
Love is the answer.
Let your love grow.
Love is gracious.
Love is kind.
And love has boundaries.
Sending Love ❤️
I'd like to share with you a little of my back story as an artist. I am a self taught photo realistic portrait artist. There is a lot of technical craft in that and I am proud of what I accomplished. As I worked doing these gorgeous portraits, the drawings in my sketch book looked like that of a small child. I found it confusing and disturbing. I didn't feel like I was a "real" artist. So after many years of angst about this, I decided to turn aside from my portrait work and explore the expression of art making, mark making that was showing up in my sketchbooks. I wanted to explore more deeply who I was as an artist and discover my unique artistic voice. That meant showing up to the page with no expectations and allowing myself to express myself free of judgement. It wasn't easy and I have been at it for years.
One of my favorite things to do in recent years has been to draw three pages in my sketchbook before I go to bed. I show up to an 11x14 sketchbook with markers, my favorite tool to work with the unconscious, and allow myself to draw whatever wants to speak from within me. I have drawn pictures that reflect my anxiety about the world, emotions around my personal life and more. Often I draw very sad looking creatures and sometimes stick figures. Drawing like this is a path to the core of my inner life. It helps me unload stress. It creates ease within me. In the end I have these amazing sketchbooks.
I think of drawing from the unconscious as stepping up to the art pad without a plan. It's about just showing up and allowing that which is below the conscious level of the mind to surface. I don't know what I am about to express. I'm not trying to make fine art. Sometimes I don't even understand what has shown up. Sometimes I will explore a picture more deeply by writing about it but most of the time, I am content to leave it wordless and just let it work on me in whatever way it does. I have deep satisfaction in simply expressing that which in many ways is beyond words.
If this is something that interests you, please feel free to contact me and lets start up a conversation.
I look to nature to find my lessons on how to grow. Presently in nature, we are in a liminal place, a place in between two other places. We are in between the Yuletide and the season of Imbolc which marks the beginning of Spring. We are talking very early Spring here. Imbolc is usually marked by catkins and blooming snowdrops. This is a fertile time for many of us, a time to dream a new seed into our future.
“We are not going in circles. We are going upwards.
The path is a spiral. We have already climbed many steps.”
- Hermann Hesse
I like to honor the dreaming time. Dreaming, goal setting is a process to be valued, not to be cheated upon by moving through it too quickly or carelessly. It’s important to take time to examine your dreams, to research them, both outwardly in terms of practical application but also inwardly. How does your dream measure against your own inner compass? How does it measure against your values? Does your vision bring you joy? If it doesn’t bring you joy, you will be more likely to abandon it. It will feel hard to stay motivated. If you can find joy in thinking about it, you will more likely pursue it. With joy, even when things get hard, you keep going because it has meaning and passion for you. You really want to achieve your desired result. Joy is like a fire in the burner of your heart that keeps you going.
“I’m working my happiness like a full time job.”
- Gabrielle Bernstein
What if, for the entire year of 2019, you pursued Joy? What if you started noticing where you find joy each day? And what if seeking and finding joy was enough? What would happen if you collected a little treasure box of joy in your heart? And every day you kept adding to it? You might find yourself smiling incessantly. People might start wanting to hang out with you because you are so happy. You might find that you are less stressed out. You might find that suddenly, questions about your life are being answered because you are spending more time with joy and joy IS the answer.
“When we are centered in our joy
we attain our wisdom.”
- Marianne Williamson
I will leave you with the charming words of my friend and tarot reader Arwen Lynch Poe:
"Seek Joy, y'all."
The Yuletide holiday is filled with joy; the joy of shopping, homemade cookies, parties, trees, lights and gifts. There is a lot of joy to entertain. And where is the comfort? Do you even seek comfort? I’m a big fan of comfort and I pursue this holiday as quietly, as minimally as I can. I look for something different in this holiday. I look for the quiet.
Recently, I was sitting on the red couch in my kitchen daydreaming, as I stared out the large windows into our backyard. Our backyard is full of garden spaces and those spaces are currently full of leaves to keep the beds warm and fed with rotting compost before the next growing season. But what caught my eye this day was the filbert tree. There it stands, on the edge of one of the beds, barren of leaves in the cold, gray winter. And I got it. I understood the lesson I heard often in my seasonal courses. Winter is the time when the energy of nature is drawn within. I could see how the tree was drawing energy into its sap, into its roots. I find that meaningful. This is nature’s time of quiet and calm, of nurturing its essence so that it will be ready for the hysterical fullness of spring, summer and harvest. The tree has lots of work to do ahead in the seasons to come. But right now it works at nurturing essence, sap, roots. I want to approach this time of year more like the filbert tree. I want to nurture my essence, create rest and comfort, so that I can be ready for the fullness of summer and harvest as it shows up in my life, business, creativity, household, etc.
The word Comfort means:
Comfort is an important word for me, an important strategy I bring to my coaching clients. It is easier to bring about change in life when one is feeling grounded, centered in one’s body, and at comfort with one’s self. Knowing how to provide comfort for one's self is an important skill no matter what time of year it is. And, it is at this time of year that we can learn from nature.
I wonder if you crave comfort in the holiday season as the song invites?
Do you need time out from shopping and merry making?
For my health and well being, I have made a commitment this season to get out and walk in the fresh air and the neighborhood at least once a day and in the morning. But I also, have made a commitment to explore a path in the forest once a week. Nature is my chapel. Nature provides me with comfort, deep comfort, Soul comfort.
I invite you this Holiday Season, to notice if you need to take time out for yourself, to provide yourself with some sweet comfort of life that will nurture your spirit, your essence, your Soul. What does that look like for you? Providing yourself with comfort and rest will fortify you so you may rally on in this holiday season and beyond that, into and through the New Year.
Happy Holy Days!
I thought I would share with you today the magic of my art process. The pie pictured above was the result of working in my sketch book. Sometimes the art work I do looks like what you see in the picture below on the left. In fact, on that day, there were nine other pictures like that one, one right after another. And then suddenly the balloon people showed up revealing their joy in dancing for pie. The happy picture of that session. I took it as a message. I got up and made pie. And truly, that day, making art and making that pie did restore my Soul.
What restores your soul?
What beauty do you make in the world around you?
By the way, smiling counts as an act of beauty.
Writing, as a habit, opens up the treasure chest
of your heart and your Soul.
By writing you come to know yourself.
By writing you come to love yourself.
It takes time. It takes writing.
If you want to know your mind, write.
If you want to go beyond your mind, write.
If you want to create inner quiet, write.
We spend time with our spouses, our children, our friends.
But what about spending time with one’s self?
Writing carves out time for you to make friends with yourself.
Writing shows you your pain, your confusion.
Writing solves problems, creates confidence.
As we witness the turmoil of our lives and our minds
upon the written page,
we develop compassion for ourselves
which in turn develops compassion for others.
Writing cultivates peace, inner peace.
As peace grows inside our hearts and minds
it then radiates outwards.
That’s the way it works.
Writing creates a home in the heart,
a home in the body.
We discover that we live with
A cranky voice
A complaining voice
A worried voice
An anxious voice
A sorrowful voice
A confused voice
A critical voice.
And as we give all these parts of ourselves a place
in our written journal, in our awareness,
they calm down.
These parts of ourselves just need space to speak,
space to be heard, loved and accepted
When we accept all the parts of ourselves as we are
then it becomes a little bit easier to accept others.
We don’t need to talk so much.
We become better at listening.
I write to listen. The more I listen to me,
the better I get at listening to you.
Write. Every day write.
Become your own companion.